Earlier today Apple released one of the most anticipated software updates since they launched the App Store. Not only was this release supposed to unify features across all 3 iOS-based devices (I.e. iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch) but also to introduce a few new ones.
Apple fans will already know that the major features are AirPrint and AirPlay as well as Folders and multitasking on iPad.
Folders has its obvious advantages and those who’ve used iOS4 on iPhones and iPod Touches will know how easy it is to organise your apps with them. Multitasking is something I’ve looked forward to on the iPad and so far (after about 2-3 hours use) it’s working well. I hope app developers will soon release updates that take full advantage of it.
The main feature I want to talk about is AirPrint. I was quite looking forward to this feature, particularly for the iPad as it would make the device a proper mobile computer for me.
Unfortunately when it arrived it wasn’t quite what I saw Steve Jobs present when the update was originally announced in September. It turns out in its pure form, it only supports a few wireless HP printers with the ePrint feature. I’ve seen only one on sale so far in the UK (I know there’s likely to be a few) which currently costs £67! We already have two perfectly good printers which are shared throughout the house and I refuse to believe the only way to use it was to fork out for another printer.
After a little research I found a neat little tool called Printopia by Ecamm. It took literally seconds to install and required almost no configuring. It’s brilliant! Not only did it automatically share all my printers it has the option to print to email and send a PDF to Dropbox. The Dropbox is particularly useful as there’s been a number of times I’ve been browsing on the iPad and wanted to save a document from the web to Dropbox and had to resort to Instapaper or dropping the URL into my Evernote, now I can drop documents straight to Dropbox!
This begs the question, why couldn’t Apple do this in the first place!? Surely if a small software company can put this out, possibly even before the official release of iOS 4.2, Apple could make it work just as elegantly as they have…
I should think there’s going to be a lot of disappointment over having to pay another $10 for something that was assumed to be included in the first place. I have committed quite a large chunk of this post to AirPrint’s problems however we shouldn’t forget that with a small tweak it works! Plus, this update offers much more than just printing. I can’t wait to try out AirPlay!